Seattle Now & Then: The Pantages-Palomar

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THEN: With the stone federal post office at its shoulder – to the left – and the mostly brick Cobb Building behind, the tiled Pantages Theatre at Third Ave. and University Street gave a glow to the block.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: With the stone federal post office at its shoulder – to the left – and the mostly brick Cobb Building behind, the tiled Pantages Theatre at Third Ave. and University Street gave a glow to the block. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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NOW: By one account, when Seattle Center was developed as an enhanced performance center after the 1962 World’s Fair, the Palomar Theatre lost too many on-stage bookings to survive, and a parking lot replaced it. (Jean Sherrard)

At the northeast corner of 3rd Ave. and University Street, Alexander Pantages opened this terra-cotta landmark in 1915, a likely date for this view of it during late construction.  The tall “Pantages” sign has not yet been attached to the corner.  “Benny” Marcus Priteca was a mere 23 when he took on the assignment to design the theatre.  He was so admired by Pantages that he created scores more of the “vaudeville king’s” theatres across the continent.

Like this Seattle Pantages, and the surviving Pantages in Tacoma, many of the bigger theatres were fronted with office blocks.  Because this was also the anchor for Pantages’ chain of theatres the grand promoter himself took many of these offices facing Third Avenue.  By 1926 there were 72 theatres in the Pantages circuit, which meant that traveling stage acts could be contracted for over a year of work and deals could be made.

The standard faire was a mix of vaudeville and film, and some more famous performers like Al Jolson, Buster Keaton, and Sophie Tucker appeared at the Pantages in both, although not at the same time.  After the Pantages became the Palomar in 1936 and then owned and operated by John Danz and his Sterling Theatre Company, film continued in a mix with stage acts, and Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee, and a fresh Frank Sinatra climbed to this stage.

The “Singing MC” Jerry Ross managed the Palomar from 1937 to 45, and for more years than those ran a theatrical booking agency out of the 6th floor.  By famed restaurateur John Franco’s recounting, four flights down on the second floor a different “bookie” was running “horse book” – or race gambling – during the late depression when pay offs reached as far as the mayor – through the police.

Jerry Ross was MC for the Pantages-Palomar’s “Last Curtain Party” on May 2 1965.  The then locally popular Jackie Souders band played for the dancing.  A year later the finishing touches were being bolted to the University Properties parking garage that took the place – sort of – of the then merely 50-year-old but lost classy landmark.

WEB-ONLY EXTRAS

Plymouth Congregational Church Twice on University Street

Now follow two former now-then features that appeared first in Pacific Northwest magazine.   The first shows Plymouth Congregational Church at the northeast corner of Third and University.  It appeared in The Times on August 13, 2000 and gives a thumbnail history of the congregation – well, a clipping from that thumbnail.  But it was written for a similar  but different photograph of the sanctuary, one which I cannot for the moment uncover in my piles or files.  But this later view will do, and it also reveals work progressing on the Federal Building, AKA the Post Office, behind it.  So the date is early 20th century, say ca. 1906.  We will skip any special “now” shot for this.  We have Jean’s for the “lead” story (above) taken on the same corner.

A few other views of this corner follow this first story.  Each is briefly captioned.  When I can find them we will post two or three slides of the Palomar’s destruction for the building of the parking garage, which is still in place.

The second story is also about the influential downtown Congregationalists, and records a moment during the cornerstone laying of the church at its then new site on 6th Avenue between Seneca and University Streets, where it is still, although in a different “plant.”   This feature originally appeared in The Times on May 22, 2005.

GOTHIC PILE

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The boom in building that followed the city’s “Great Fire” of 1889 was not, of course, limited to the burned district.  While the ruins cooled the local economy heated up as the march of immigration into Seattle during the late 1880s quickly broke into a stampede.  Although the original sanctuary of the local Congregationalists escaped the fire it was much too small for a congregation multiplying like loaves and fishes.  The northeast corner lot at 3rd Avenue and University Street was purchased for a price considerably smaller than the $32,000 got for the sale of the original church site on Second Avenue between Seneca and Spring streets.  That pioneer property had been donated 18 years earlier by Seattle pioneers and Plymouth parishioners Arthur and Mary Denny.  From the beginning the list of Plymouth’s members was filled with local leaders.

Following the 1889 fire Seattle was well stocked with architects – most of them new in town – searching the ruins for commissions.   The Congregationalist’s, however, chose William E. Boone, an architect already responsible for many of the city’s pre-fire landmarks including Henry and Sara Yesler’s mansion also on Third Avenue.  About the time he got the job in 1890 Boone formed a partnership with William H. Willcox, who brought with him considerable experience in building churches in the Midwest.  Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, of the University of Washington’s School of Architecture, speculates that it may have been the experienced Wilcox who served as primary designer for this soaring brick pile done in the then still popular Gothic Revival style.

The cornerstone for the new church was laid on July 31, 1891.   A half year later the The Plymouth Church Herald announced to a congregation, which for the past year had been worshiping nearby in the Armory on Union Street, that although their new church was completed the pews were late in arriving and “inasmuch as the floor of the auditorium slopes, it will not be comfortable to attempt seating it with chairs.”  While not elegant the parishioners response to this set back was direct — they shortened the back legs of the church’s chairs so that services in the new sanctuary could begin almost at once.

In 1910 after briefly considering developing their Third Avenue corner with a new combination church, office and business building, the congregation decided to build a new church three blocks east at 6th Avenue.  Vaudeville impresario Alexander Pantages purchased the old corner and replaced this church will his namesake theater.  As a sign of those booming times, Pantages paid the church $325,000, or a little more than ten times what the Congregationalist’s received 20 years earlier for their original site on Second Avenue.

Looking northeast from a rear window in the Savoy Hotel on Second Avenue and over the construction pit for a building that would be home eventually for the Pacific Outfitting Co., to Plymouth Church in its last moments.   Photo by Asahel Curtis. Courtesy Lawton Gowey
Looking northeast from a rear window in the Savoy Hotel on Second Avenue and over the construction pit for a building that would be home eventually for the Pacific Outfitting Co., to Plymouth Church in its last moments. Photo by Asahel Curtis. Courtesy Lawton Gowey
A postcard adaptation from the same window as the Curtis photograph
A postcard adaptation from the same window as the Curtis photograph
Another postcard and soon after, but this time with the Pantages Theatre in the place of  Plymouth Church
Another postcard and soon after, but this time with the Pantages Theatre in the place of Plymouth Church
A characterization of Alexander Pantages from his time
A characterization of Alexander Pantages from his time
Looking south on Third between Union and University Streets during the “big snow of 1916.”  The postcard’s own claim that this was “the greatest snowstorm in history” is wrong.  It takes second place to Seattle’s bigger snow of 1880.  Readers may be now warming up to winter.  We remind you that we have a special “button” on this blog for a history of Seattle Snows where the 1880 and 1916 snows, and many others, are described and illustrated. Be prepared.
Looking south on Third between Union and University Streets during the “big snow of 1916.” The postcard’s own claim that this was “the greatest snowstorm in history” is wrong. It takes second place to Seattle’s bigger snow of 1880. Readers may be now warming up to winter. We remind you that we have a special “button” on this blog for a history of Seattle Snows where the 1880 and 1916 snows, and many others, are described and illustrated. Be prepared.

PLYMOUTH CORNERSTONE

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THEN: Mark Matthews, the pastor for First Presbyterian Church, welcomes the parishioners of Plymouth Congregational Church to the neighborhood during the 1911 cornerstone laying ceremonies. (courtesy Plymouth Congregational Church)
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NOW: As above, this view from University Street looks south to the block between 5th and 6th Avenues; also the contemporary repeat has been adjusted to show both the street and a portion of the neighboring IBM Building on the far right.

Here on the Sunday afternoon of July 30, 1911 at the southwest corner of University Street and Sixth Avenue the members of Plymouth Congregational Church are laying the cornerstone for their third sanctuary. A mere three blocks from their second home at the northeast corner of Third and University, Plymouth picked it after Alexander Pantages, the great theatre impresario, made the  congregation an offer that was convincing.

In a passage from the 1937 parish history The Path We Came By this scene is described. “The shabby old frame tenements of the neighborhood, gray with dust from regrade steam shovels, must have looked down in amazement at the crowd gathered there that Sunday afternoon, women in silks and enormous beflowered hats, men in their sober best.” From the scene’s evidence, bottom-center, we may add one barefoot boy with his pants rolled up.

While the surrounding tenements were really not so old they were certainly dusty for the lots and streets of this Denny Knoll (not hill) neighborhood were still being scraped with regrades. Less than ten months following this ceremony the completed church was dedicated on Sunday May 12,1912. On Monday an open house featured “music, refreshments and athletics” and also “130 doors – all open.”

Fifty years later Plymouth’s interim senior minister, Dr. Vere Loper, described another dusty scene. “Wrecking equipment has leveled off buildings by the wholesale around us. The new freeway under construction is tearing up the earth in front of us, and the half bock behind us is being cleared for the beautiful IBM Building.” Plymouth’s answer was to stay put and rebuild. Opened in 1967, the new sanctuary was white and gleaming like its neighbor the IBM tower and seemed like a set with it, in part, because the same architectural firm, NBBJ, designed both.

Lawton Gowey’s snapshot of the Plymouth Congregational sanctuary of 1912 during its last times.  The photograph looks across 6th Avenue, and Lawton has dated the slide Aug. 5, 1964
Lawton Gowey’s snapshot of the Plymouth Congregational sanctuary of 1912 during its last times. The photograph looks across 6th Avenue, and Lawton has dated the slide Aug. 5, 1964
Gowey returned on March 21, 1966 to record the razing of the Plymouth church with a view that looks southwest thru the intersection of Sixth Avenue and University Street.  The columns that seemed doomed on the left were instead saved and moved to the northwest corner of Pike Street and Boren Avenue where they still stand to puzzle most motorists and pedestrians. We have written a piece about this, but will save the details for another occasion.
Gowey returned on March 21, 1966 to record the razing of the Plymouth church with a view that looks southwest thru the intersection of Sixth Avenue and University Street. The columns that seemed doomed on the left were instead saved and moved to the northwest corner of Pike Street and Boren Avenue where they still stand to puzzle most motorists and pedestrians. We have written a piece about this, but will save the details for another occasion.
In between his two views, above, of the church, Lawton also photographed the University Street façade of the Palomar on May 5, 1965 moments before it too was razed.   Lawton’s photographs of the razing will be found and printed here - when they are found
In between his two views, above, of the church, Lawton also photographed the University Street façade of the Palomar on May 5, 1965 moments before it too was razed. Lawton’s photographs of the razing will be found and printed here - when they are found

THE BLOGADDENDUM

Lawton Gowey has dated this 11th-hour photo of the Palomar Theatre, April 21, 1965, and describes the "On Stage Boeing Musical, April 23,  Annie Get Your Gun," performed by Boeing Employees, as the Palomar's "last public show."
Lawton Gowey has dated this 11th-hour photo of the Palomar Theatre, April 21, 1965, and describes the "On Stage Boeing Musical, April 23, Annie Get Your Gun," performed by Boeing Employees, as the Palomar's "last public show."
The razing of the Palomar was well along when Lawton Gowey recorded this slide of the destruction on June 22, 1965.
The razing of the Palomar was well along when Lawton Gowey recorded this slide of the destruction on June 22, 1965.
His water department office nearby, Gowey took this photo on April 7, 1978 of the parking garage that replaced the garage.
His water department office nearby, Gowey took this photo on April 7, 1978 of the parking garage that replaced the garage.

Seattle Now & Then: The Roosevelt Theatre

THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
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NOW: A block full of neon-announced retailers has been since replaced with another of the Central Business Districts big scrapers, the U.S. Bank Center.

In 1933 the Pike Street Theatre opened with a fine Art Deco façade topped, incongruously, with clumsy roof supports for a grand sign.  It closed as the Town Theatre in 1986, but for most of its life it was, as the sign says, the Roosevelt. Hanging inside to either side of the stage were large portraits of Franklin and Teddy – the presidential Roosevelts.

The likely date here is 1941. That spring the features playing in the Roosevelt’s double bill were both released. (If you are thinking of renting the video, “The Devil and Miss Jones”, a romantic comedy with Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn, and Edmund Gwenn has got much better reviews than “Model Wife.”  Also for 1941, the Chevy’s rear end on the far left has that year’s curves.

In the 1941 city directory there are 44 motion picture theatres listed. Most of them – twenty-six – are out in the neighborhoods.  As expected most of the downtown theatres are at its north end with the big retailers.  Within three blocks of the Roosevelt, at 515 Pike Street, are nine others: the Blue Mouse, Capitol, Coliseum, Embassy, 5th Avenue, Music Box, Orpheum, Colonial, and Winter Garden theatres.  If I have figured correctly, only the 5th Avenue survives – a venue for touring stage shows.

On this south side of Pike between 5th and 6th Avenue we find in the directory’s continuous street listings nine retailers.  For “old time’s sake” we will name them starting at the 5th Avenue corner with Friedlander Jewelers and continuing east with Staider’s Delicatessen, Coast Radio, Michael and Coury Men’s Furnishing, Burt’s Jewelry Store (here just right of the Roosevelt,) Anderson’s Confections, and the once very popular Green Apple Pie Restaurant.  Like McDonalds with hamburgers The Green Apple kept updating their sidewalk sign with how many pies they had sold.  The Brewster Cigar Company completed the block.

Seattle in 1885 from Denny Hill

The view below – the right half only – was first presented in Pacific Magazine on Sunday July 29, 1984. That was early in my figuring with the Times: the third year now of twenty-seven. I also included it in Seattle Now and Then, Volume Two, the second of three collections of the Times features that I self-published under Tartu Publications. (All are out of print now, although I have a few in “private” preserve.) I’ll use now most of the text from ’84, but I’ll also add some points, especially about the added left half of the pan.

First, as a bit of a tease, I challenge the reader through the course of this little essay to locate the future site of the by now long-gone Roosevelt Theatre (later the Town) on the south side of Pike Street mid-block between 5th and 6th. Of course, you can cheat and jump to the bottom of all this and find it in a detail pulled from the panorama.

[Please Click Twice to Enlarge.]

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The pan was photographed in 1885 by I do not know whom from the southern slope of the southern summit of Denny Hill. (Roughly, Virginia Street ran between the hill’s two humps.) This is residential and academic Seattle. It includes the UW campus on Denny Knoll, left-of-center. The commercial district around Pioneer Place (or Square if you prefer) is to the photograph’s distant right and just this side of the tideflats. The tide is in and laps against the western side of Beacon Hill, the long ridge on the horizon.

It was in 1885 that Arthur Denny began referring to this prospect – his hill – not by his own name but by what he hoped for it. He called it Capitol Hill. Denny schemed to kidnap the territorial capitol from Olympia and build the state’s new political campus on his hill.

The extended rear of Arthur and Mary Denny’s home at the southeast corner of Union Street and First Avenue (then still named Front Street) appears on the far right of the pan. The lawn – the family cow’s pasture – behind their long home separates it from the family barn that sits here at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Union Street. Continue one block north on Second (towards the hill) and you come to Pike Street. There at the northeast corner sits the barn – with the shining roof – for the city’s horse trolley. The “bobtail cars” began running in 1884. The line of the tracks can be seen extending down Second Avenue. At Pike the rails turned one block west to First and then turned north again for the final leg through Belltown and eventually as far north as lower Queen Anne. Continuing now north on Second Ave. from Pike Street, its intersection with Pine is just missed off the page to the right. Third Avenue ascends from the scene’s center.

In this neighborhood humbler homes were mixed with a few mansions. The Italianate style was popular in the 1880s and a few examples can be found in the pan.  Many of the lots were large ones with room enough for a generous garden, a few fruit trees and a lawn. Many properties were separated from their neighbors and the city’s often elevated wood plank sidewalks by picturesque picket fences. Second Avenue was graded (smoothed) in 1883, in plenty of time to lay the trolley tracks.

Of the seven churches that can be seen here, the only obvious one is the Swedish Lutheran Evangelical Gethsemane Congregation on the east side of Third and just north of Pike Street. That puts it near the center-bottom of the pan. The Lutherans are very new here. The church was dedicated on February 22, 1885 – this year. It was Seattle’s first Scandinavian and also Lutheran church and its pastor, Dr. G. A. Anderson, spent alternative Sundays here and in Seattle’s material/spiritual rival, Tacoma. (Which town would be blessed and if Dr. Anderson knew would he also tell?)

I must confess that in this panorama the church – the sanctuary – is itself split. When I merged the overlapping sides, left and right, the buildings all fit as I expected that they would. I chose to make the cut near the center of the church. But then looking above the church roof to the greenbelt on the south side of Union Street where it holds the northern border of the U.W. campus on Denny Knoll, I learned that although the two parts of the pan were photographed from same place on Denny Hill they were not taken at the same time – not even the same season. To elaborate we need to first identify the territorial campus’ main building.

It is, of course, the white box on the knoll with classic columns presented at its front door on the west façade that faces both the community and Puget Sound. On the other or east side of the school is the large leafy Maple that still had another twenty years before it was cut down. And here is a surprise. In the left half of the panorama the leaves on the maple have dropped but not on the right half.  The line or border between the part of the tree with leaves and the same tree without leaves is obvious. What’s more there are lots of leafy trees on the right half of the pan and none that I can find on the left side of it. Also the left hand side of the pan is exposed to a sun that can still light the northern sides of the buildings before its flight south, while the light on the right half of the pan is flat or flatter. These differences border on the mysterious, for how does one join a northern light with a leafless neighborhood? But we must allow it and remember that this neighborhood is not on the “true compass.” That may account for it. I will speculate that the mysterious photographer took the right hand or western panel first and later in the year returned to take the left half, thinking that a pan that included the city growing up First Hill was more marketable than one merely of the “old” city.

The university’s main structure for classes and offices was built on Denny’s Knoll in 1861 near the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Seneca Street. Fourth Avenue then stopped at Seneca and did not proceed north through the campus. It resumed its path north of Union Street – as it does still in the panorama. (And returning to the tease, that is a telling clue for finding the mid-block on Pike between 5th and 6th Avenues.) Behind and to the left of the university, is Providence Hospital, which was enlarged throughout the 1880s, as the Catholic sisters care was much the most popular in town. Here it has but one tower. Soon it will have three. The hospital faced Fifth Avenue between Madison and Spring Streets, where stands since the early 40s the federal courthouse. The grand white box to its left is Central School. It nearly fills the block bordered by Madison, Marion, 6th and 7th Avenues. It opened on May 7, 1883 and burned to the ground in the spring of 1888. Coming again to the photographer’s side of the university’s main building, another white box is snug in the green belt. This is the three-story home for the Young Naturalists Club. This society of scientifically curious specimen collectors was the beginning of the Washington State Museum, which in 1985 celebrated its centennial in its present modern home, the Burke Museum, on the U.W. Campus.

On the First Hill horizon of the left-hand panel are a few landmarks that in 1885 were nearly new. Coppins water tower (and works) pokes up about one-third of the way into the scene from its left border. To its left is Col. Haller’s mansion Castlemount with its own tower at the northeast corner of James and Minor.

On the far left is the green belt covered in last week’s offering, that of the steepest part of First Hill where University Street climbs – or attempts to – between 8th and 9th Avenues. This generous document is, of course, filled with many other identifiable landmarks but we will take mercy and exit this tour here – except to add what follows.

For all the familiar charm that entwines this mid-1880s scene, the year 1885 was remembered by pioneer historian-journalist Thomas Prosch, then the Post-Intelligencer’s editor, as characterized by “a great deal of ugly feeling . . .the times were hard and the hands of all seemed to be raised against others. Grievances were common and relief measures took violent shape.” The economic depression that followed the economic crash of 1883 kept the times dull in spite of the flood of immigration that followed the completion also that year of the Northern Pacific’s transcontinental. The new railroad brought west a hopeful flood of single men looking for work, but what they found were opportunities that required not labor but cash. Those who had the where-with-all to buy land in 1885 had golden futures – at least until the next crash in 1893. The result was a volatile split between labor and capital that erupted into race riots in both Tacoma and Seattle, which must have tested Pastor Anderson. The scapegoats of working class resentment were the Chinese and the capitalists who exploited their relatively cheap but effective labor.

[Both the panorama and its detail below, which shows the mid-block on Pike between 5th and 6th Avenues, are used courtesy of the University of Washington, Special Collections.  They are in the basement of the Allen Library.]

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La Push

For the past 40 odd years, we’ve been visiting the coast of the Olympic Peninsula, staying alternately at Mora campgrounds, Three Rivers, and LaPush Ocean Park, with occasional sojourns along the shore – beach hikes of 2-5 days duration.  I’d posit that nature and our connection to it is a work of imagination; never static, changing ever as we change.

Here, for general enjoyment, are two shots of the same scene on the same day, but quite different, I think.  One I prefer in color, the other black and white.  Two miles north on Rialto Beach, itself just north of LaPush.  A stone’s throw from Hole-in-the-Wall, for those familiar with the area.

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Tide coming in at Rialto
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Same, with James Island on the horizon, left.

And further south, my brother Kael and sister-in-law Anne frightened great flocks of gulls on 2nd Beach, where we’ve been jumping waves in the 46 degree water since we were small.

Kael & Anne with gulls
Kael & Anne with gulls

This last trip was especially sweet if only because the forecast was consistently so bleak.  Clouds and showers were predicted for both days represented above, and we were prepared with parkas and tarps.  It reminded me of an old and now-departed friend adherence to what he called The Doctrine of Zero Expectations: expect little or nothing and you’ll never be disappointed; you may even be pleasantly surprised.

Seattle Now & Then: First Hill Exceptions

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THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.
THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.
NOW: On can still reach 9th Avenue on University Street, but by steps only, and f along that way one must meander through the creative labyrinth of concrete and waterfalls that is Freeway Park.
NOW: One can still reach 9th Avenue on University Street, but by steps only, and along that way one must meander through the creative labyrinth of concrete and waterfalls that is Freeway Park. (Jean Sherrard)

There were only two precipitous places along the west side of what the pioneers soon learned to call First Hill where an imprudent trailblazer might have fallen to injury or worse.  These steep exceptions would be obvious once the forest was reduced to stumps.  But when the old growth was intact it was best to stay on native paths or stray with caution, especially to two future prospects on 9th Avenue – the one near Jefferson St. and the other here on University Street.

Exploring the hillside behind Jefferson Terrace at 8th one can still intimate the cliff, which Seattle Housing’s largest and probably also highest low-income facility nestles.  Eighth Ave. stops just south of James Street at that high-rise, because the cliff behind it never would allow the avenue to continue south.

The other steep exception was here on University Street where it climbed – or tried to climb – east up First Hill between 8th and 9th Avenues.  The goal is half made. On University, 9th  has two levels and only pedestrians – like the gent here descending the steps – could and can still climb between them.  All others had to approach the lower of the two intersections from below.  They could throttle their motorcar into the photographer’s point-of-view west up University from 8th Avenue, or they could make another steep climb from the north, up from Hubble Place.

The bridge is another exception.  It reached from the upper intersection of 9th and University to the top floor of the Normandie Apartments, whose south façade we see here covered in Ivy.  Thanks to Jacqueline Williams and Diana James for a helpful peek into their work-in-progress “Shared Walls: Seattle Apartments 1900-1939.”  We learn that when it was built a century ago James Schack, the Normandie’s architect, included the bridge as a convenience to the big apartment’s residents who rented 84 units, and all of them with disappearing beds.

For another view of the same location prior to Freeway Park, check out this post at Vintage Seattle.

WEB-EXTRAS

Now follows four views of our subject: the steep northwest “corner” of First Hill.   All four look to the east-southeast from Denny Hill, or with the last of the four what replaced part of it, the New Washington Hotel.   In order, the circa dates are 1882, 1890, 1903 and 1911.  With a little more study the dates could be made precise for with the last three views especially there is enough internal evidence to encourage a reader to visit the public library’s Seattle Room for some fine tuning.

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I think it likely that this view of our subject was photographed mid-September 1882, by the famous California photographer Carleton Watkins.  From a platform he erected on the south or front hump of Denny Hill Carleton took an eight-part panorama, or so the Post-Intelligencer (rest in peace) claimed on Sept. 22, 1882.  “He got a very good view of Lake Union.”  Well, not so good really.  In that part of his pan the lake can barely be seen through the stumps and rejected trees of the ravaged forest.  But this view to the east-southeast is more revealing.  There is still a greenbelt of forest holding to that northwest corner of First Hill. Like Watkins’ obstructed look north to Lake Union, this is the first view of this part of First Hill – but I hope to be corrected by new discoveries.  (This photo was first shared with me by Loomis Miller.)

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We hope that there survive better prints of this view, which was also taken from the south summit of Denny Hill.  The corner of Third Ave. and Pike Street shows far right.  Our subject, far left, has been stripped of its forest, but not yet developed.  Being steep it is still land avoided for construction.  The Methodist Protestant church is nearing completion in the middle-ground at the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue.  “Bagley’s Church” lost its parish at Second and Madison to the “Great Fire” of 1889, and this congregation like many others sold their pioneer property for much more than this corner lot then still on the fringe cost them.  A likely date is 1890 or early 1891.  (Picture courtesy of Lawton Gowey)

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From this prospect of the old Denny/Washington Hotel atop that south summit of Denny Hill we may ascend the steeple of the Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Church at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Pine Street and continue to the barren hillside block bordered by 8th and 9th avenues and Seneca and University Street, our subject, or part of it.  To the left of this cleared block is the intersection of 9th and University – both levels of it.  A steep bank of spilled fill dirt separates them.  It is from the top of that formation that the bridge would lead to the upper floors of the Normandie.  Top-center is the Ohaveth Sholem Synagogue showing its rear facade.  It was built in 1892 for what was Seattle’s first Jewish congregation.  It sits close to the northwest corner of Seneca and 8th Avenue, where the Exeter is now, and across Seneca from where Christian Scientists would build what is now Town Hall at the southwest corner of Seneca and 8th.  The steeple of the Unitarian Church is far left, on the east side of 7th Avenue, north of Union Street.  Above the synagogue at the northeast corner of Minor Ave. and James Street, the tower of Castlemont, the first oversized home – or mansion – built on First Hill, punctures the horizon.  Col. Granville O. Haller was the owner.

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While Otto Frasch’s “real photo postcards” cannot always be dated by their number – here #210 – that is no excuse for my uncertainty of the exact date for this scene, which was taken not from Denny Hill (or Hotel) but from the New Washington Hotel at the northeast corner of Stewart Street and Second Avenue (now the Josephinum).  There certainly is a splendor of evidence here for dating – I just have not made the effort.  Like you dear reader, I’ll wait on another reader to peg the year, and perhaps even the month – or nearly and share them with us as a comment.  Here, far right, architect William Doty Van Siclen’s Northern Bank and Trust Company Building (now the Seaboard Building) at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Pike Street has its full-storied 1909 addition.  And the architect-developer Van Siclen’s namesake Van Siclen apartment building also appears here above the Seaboard Building, where facing 8th Avenue from its east side and mid-block between Seneca and University Streets, it is also a key to this week’s subject-neighborhood, that steep northwest corner of First Hill.  The Van Siclen was recently torn down, and the last I looked – when accompanying Jean for his “now” view in Freeway Park, it was still a hole.  (Perhaps Jean took a photo of it and will add it here later.)  The corner bottom-center is 4th Avenue and Pine Street.  The triangular Plaza Hotel with bay windows and nice details – frame not brick or tile – was built in 1906-07 when Westlake Avenue was being cut through the neighborhood between 4th and Pike and Denny Way.  The nearly new Normandie Apartments are easy to find, right-of-center at the northwest corner (lower level, you know) of 9th Avenue and University Street.  They appear above the roof of Hotel Wilhard.

As a closing on this subject, here is photographer Robert Bradley’s 1963 look into Seattle Freeway construction through the rubble of the apartment houses that once stood on the north side of Madison between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.  The freeway ditch here is not yet dug.  First Presbyterian is far right (the penultimate sanctuary to the modern one used now).   The Beaux-Arts Christian Scientist church – now Town Hall – is next.  Exeter House, another survivor, is at the scene’s center and like the Sholum Congregation before it stands at the “gate” to the steep neighborhood shown and described this week.  The reader may wish to compare Jean’s “After Gotterdaemerung” look into the I-5 trench at night from nearly the same prospect.  It is included two contributions below.

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COWEN'S UNIVERSITY PARK, "A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever." Keats

Having printed this week’s Pacific Northwest feature on Cowen Park already last week (the third and fourth features below), we offer here a page from developer Charles Cowen’s promotional booklet with the title we have used above – with Keats and the rest.  And we have also included here his map of both the park he had then freshly donated to the city and his addition, which he hoped to sell to its citizens lot by lot – and did.

We chose the page titled, “Some of the Reasons Why Cowen’s University Park is Such Desirable Property” for its sometimes amusing “reasons.”  The proposal that Seattle would reach a census population of 500,000 by 1910 was about two times too ambitious.  Still Cowen sold his lots.

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And the map.  In the booklet it is folded and attached to the back inside cover of the booklet.  The path of the stream may be a bit fanciful in its drawing, but it is probably close to the correct course the Green Lake outlet took on its way to Lake Washington’s Union Bay.  (We have “printed” this somewhat large so it may take a bit longer for some computers to load/show it.)

[click to enlarge]

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After Gotterdaemerung…

Went to a dress rehearsal of the last of the Ring cycle last night.  Probably the most extraordinary example of earth-shattering beauty combined with utter bullshit; one hell of a roller coaster veering between suppressed giggles and tears of joy.

Afterwards, stopped at the Madison overpass to experiment with a long-exposure – sodium lights are such a pain – but an interesting shot, I think, of the late-night river of traffic, and a moment of respite after Valhalla’s flames die down.

(click to enlarge)

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From Madison & I-5